Skin Cancer: Melanoma
Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer, and especially common here in sunny Arizona. And residents who are older, have fair skin, blue eyes, or a history of cancer are even more at risk. Let us help you enjoy the sun safely, and heal as a whole human being.
Melanoma At A Glance
Melanoma Skin Cancer Symptoms
Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body – but signs of skin cancer most often appear in areas that receive a lot of sun exposure, such as your face, arms, legs, or chest, or back. Changes in the size, shape, or color of a skin lesion may potentially be cancerous moles, and any new or unusual growth or color change on your skin should be evaluated by your doctor.
Steps to Diagnosis
When you tell your primary care physician about any mole or skin color changes, they may refer you to a skin specialist or dermatologist. If melanoma is found, a skin cancer specialist such as an oncologist will guide you through the next steps, which may include surgery, systemic therapy such as immunotherapy, oral targeted therapy, and/or radiation therapy.
In Arizona, our beautiful climate and sunshine put us all at higher risk for skin cancer. While melanoma is usually associated with older patients, young people make up an increasingly large portion of our patients. Organ transplant patients are up to 65 times more likely to develop skin cancer than people without transplants.
Use a broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen on all exposed skin, as well as wearing UV-protected sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and lip balm whenever you’re in the sun. Ask your doctor about periodic skin cancer screenings. Find a Doctor
Early-stage melanoma is often resolved with a simple biopsy, removing the affected tissue and skin.
Later-stage melanoma can require more extensive skin care treatment including:
Oral medications designed to target specific cancerous cells, administered after careful testing.
Intravenous medication that stimulates your immune system, helping it recognize and destroy cancer cells.
High-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, are used to kill cancer cells directly.
Intravenous and/or oral medication that attacks and kills cancer cells in the body.
Paired with additional treatments, surgery is usually deployed if the melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
The early signs of melanoma may seem small at first – subtle changes to moles or slight discolorations. But they could be a sign of something more serious. That’s why it’s important to take a smart approach, focused on you as a person first.
Our unique point of view allows us to take a step back and consider the best possible approach for you. That starts by looking at your genetic makeup and the molecular aspects of the melanoma itself.
Our interdisciplinary team considers the right care plan from multiple perspectives, often consulting with our national network of healthcare leaders, to gather up-to-the-moment insight on treatment options.
Then, your course of treatment will be designed to suit your exact medical needs, using precision medicine to do the most good while remaining minimally invasive. That means we’re focused not just on eradicating the disease, but on preserving your quality of life before, during, and after your treatment.
We are here to help you heal as a whole person. So wherever your care path leads, you can be sure our entire team will be there with you every step of the way.
I believe in providing my patients with all potential treatment options and tailoring treatment recommendations to each patient within a context of evidence-based medicine.”Shyamal Patel, MD
Contact us about melanoma or the other skin cancers we treat, including:
- Advanced Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Advanced Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Advanced Merkel Cell Carcinoma
- Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans
- Sebaceous Cell Carcinoma
- Other Rare Skin Tumors
"Thirty years ago, getting melanoma would have been a different story. I thank my lucky stars I got referred to the right people at the right place to help me beat this.”
Wherever your individual care plan takes you, we’ll work closely with you to understand your preferences, and your needs – and be sure any additional support is ready when you need it, including:
- Dietary or nutrition advisors, providing special focus and attention for chemo patients
- Genetic counselors to help you understand your risk factors
- Social workers dedicated to easing your emotional burdens and helping with community benefits
- Financial counselors to help you understand the financial aspect and work with you to reduce the burden when possible
- Specialty pharmacy liaisons who help authorize your prescriptions and educate you on managing side effects and taking your medicine properly
- Nurse navigators to help guide you throughout the cancer institute, every step of the way
- Physical and rehabilitation therapists who provide integrated care alongside your primary care plan